Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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September 27, 2007
By: Kevin Drum

THE DEBATE....There are times when I really admire the fortitude of mainstream reporters, and last night was one of them. For the first time in a while I watched one of the Democratic debates, and by the end I felt like I was in a total fog. What would I have done if I had to write a thousand-word summary to make the next day's paper? I couldn't even figure out enough to say for a blog post.

Part of the problem was Tim Russert. I long ago got tired of his rote version of gotcha interviewing, and it was on full display last night. He seems to think that the only way of interviewing politicians is to find something embarrassing or inconsistent that they once said and then demand that they explain themselves. Not only does this get boring, but he doesn't seem to have figured out that modern politicians all know perfectly well how to avoid answering these "have you stopped beating your mother" questions. So instead of a hard-hitting debate, what you get is even mushier and less enlightening than a normal conversation. The answers all start with "Let me back up and explain the real issue here" and then meander off into whatever the candidate feels like talking about. The only thing Russert's questions accomplish is to make each candidate waste ten or fifteen seconds at the beginning changing the subject.

As for the candidates themselves, Edwards seemed to me to do the best. His answers weren't as sharp as I've seen before, but he mostly seemed to frame things in ways that made sense, even in cases where they make no sense at all (for example, the business of cutting off congressional healthcare until Congress passes a healthcare bill). Obama was, again, tentative and halting. He mostly just relied on well-rehearsed soundbites and constant reminders that HE WAS RIGHT ABOUT THE WAR FROM THE BEGINNING. We get it, Barack. Hillary was OK, but didn't really advance her cause, I thought. Even granted that Russert should quit asking hypotheticals since he knows no one will answer them, her answers to his hypotheticals were more plainly evasive than usual.

Among the others, Gravel needs to be put out of his misery. These debates really don't need comic relief in the form of someone playing the cranky uncle role. Dodd did pretty well, I thought, though his reliance on his decades of Washington experience didn't seem very convincing. Richardson never does very well in these forums and didn't do well last night. Biden I can't figure out. He has this weird attitude that seems to say that he's just up there having a good time and knows perfectly well that he has no serious chance of becoming the nominee. And he knows we know it. So we're all in on the joke. Or something. And Kucinich was Kucinich. It doesn't matter that much, but he did better than usual.

Anyway, those are my impressions. What were yours?

Kevin Drum 12:15 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (64)

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Comments

My impression is that none of these guys can actually beat a Republican candidate - a McCain or even Thompson or Romeny. What a missed opportunity it will be in 2008 if I am right!

They are too evasive, rehearsed, defensive, calculating to appear moderate, and wishy washy. I hope that does not define liberalism.

Posted by: gregor on September 27, 2007 at 12:23 PM | PERMALINK

but he mostly seemed to frame things in ways that made sense, even in cases where they make no sense at all (for example, the business of cutting off congressional healthcare until Congress passes a healthcare bill). —Kevin Drum

What do you mean makes no sense? Federal employees, particularly members of congress, have probably the best health care plans available in the U.S. if not the world, for which, as I understand, they pay nothing. In other words, why do they get a free "national" health care plan but the president has the gall to threaten a veto for expanding minimal health care insurance to low-income Americans.

In short, I believe Edwards was saying, though the proverbial snowball in hell conditionality holds, that the federal employees' plan ought to be suspended until every American has the same option.

Posted by: JeffII on September 27, 2007 at 12:25 PM | PERMALINK

My impression is that it's September 07, for fuck's sake.

But I still like Edwards, with Obama as veep.

Posted by: craigie on September 27, 2007 at 12:34 PM | PERMALINK

This was only a debate in the Soviet sense. Russert could have ended a few political careers if he'd pressed them on the answers to one of the questions. Instead, all we got was things the candidates have said time and time again.

[Note: WM may edit or delete this comment without notice.]

Posted by: The annoying LonewackoDotCom on September 27, 2007 at 12:35 PM | PERMALINK

Interesting. I thought Biden was really the only straight shooter of the bunch last night. And his zinger smashing Giuliani was by far the line of the night. Obama was pitiful and boring. Edwards definitely made a statement that if Barack is not going to seriously challenge Hillary on the issues then it should come down to himself on the left vs. Hillary latching onto the center. This was by far Hillary's worst performance yet in the debates.

Posted by: brianr on September 27, 2007 at 12:35 PM | PERMALINK

Fucking losers!. They can't even make a pledge to get out by 2012.

Posted by: spyder on September 27, 2007 at 12:37 PM | PERMALINK

Meeting the candidates is akin to the first few dates with a new person. You want to be interesting, appear intelligent and offer a reason to continue the relationship. You also don't want to be TOO interesting, TOO smart and also avoid saying or doing anything that gives the other person pause. You want to be just a couple notches above ordinary until you figure out the interests, the triggers and the tenor of your presentation that works best. Once you're married (elected?) the other person can discover just how nuts you are. Or, if not, you get a second term. There are exceptions. Some guys are plainly nuts and still get that second bite at the apple. Diebold can explain threading that needle.

Posted by: steve duncan on September 27, 2007 at 12:38 PM | PERMALINK

Russerts style seems to be a product of Meet The Press's move to strictly A-list guests.

These people have far too much message discipline, and far too much to lose, to ever give a straight answer. So Tim quit asking straight questions a long time ago.

Posted by: wishIwuz2 on September 27, 2007 at 12:40 PM | PERMALINK

In short, I believe Edwards was saying, though the proverbial snowball in hell conditionality holds, that the federal employees' plan ought to be suspended until every American has the same option.

I'd love to see that -- let them all line up for private insurance, if they can get it with all their pre-existing conditions.

Posted by: Stefan on September 27, 2007 at 12:41 PM | PERMALINK

I'll never understand why Edwards hasn't made more progress in his campaign.

I can only surmise that Hillary got the conventional status quo vote, Obama managed to land the lion's share of the activist vote and support, and Edwards has had to fight for the scraps.

More's the pity. He's the candidate most likely to bring about change.

Posted by: frankly0 on September 27, 2007 at 12:41 PM | PERMALINK

JeffII,

You have to differentiate between federal employees and Congress. Congress gets free health care, federal employees do not. Having worked in the public and private sector, and being a current federal employee, I can tell you that while generous, federal employee health insurance is much like that I had in the private sector. Federal employees choose between HMOs/PPOs/HSAs, we pay premiums for ourselves and our family members, we have deductibles, we have to pay extra for dental and vision, et cetera. I'm not complaining, mind you, I very much appreciate this great benefit. But it ain't free.

Cheers!

Posted by: Everett on September 27, 2007 at 12:46 PM | PERMALINK

Obama's NOT right about the war now, since he joined Edwards and Clinton in the "let's stay in Iraq for five more years" idea.

Contrary to frankly0, he does NOT have this activist's vote.

I'd consider voting for Big Bill II, or Dodd, and certainly for Denny, but not for any of the other Democrats.

There's always the Green alternative.

Posted by: SocraticGadfly on September 27, 2007 at 12:48 PM | PERMALINK

Tim Russert is a pompous choad of unparalleled smarminess and an idiot besides. Why can’t any of his research assistants explain the basics of Social Security to him? Or are they all too busy trying to bushwhack Hillary with ticking “24” hypotheticals?

If I were a college kid watching Russert and the MSM’s post-debate analysis, I’d be moving to Canada. It’s just short-attention-span theater with equivalent high school lunch room discourse.

The only heartening aspect of the “debate” occurred when candidates pushed back against Russert’s tired, hackneyed inquisition. Sure, he’s journalistic institution, a franchise if you will. But his bloated ego and innate douche-baggery make his questions about as intellectually nourishing as dinner at an Applebee’s.

For a big laugh, listen to the Potato head’s responses to Bill Moyer’s questions about the run up to the Iraq war. Pure, painful comedy: http://www.pbs.org/moyers/journal/btw/watch.html

Posted by: obnoman on September 27, 2007 at 12:49 PM | PERMALINK

Every question was a snarky semi-attack or some bizarre hypothetical. Which would only be irritating rather than infuriating if he went after Republicans and conservatives with anywhere near as much aggressiveness, or any at all, for that matter. (Witness his nearly-weekly frat-boy bull sessions with John McCain, Joe Lieberman, Dick Cheney, etc. Or his sit-down with Bush, where he let Bush ramble on with his talking points while never interjecting or asking follow-ups. He could've gone out of the room for a smoke between questions, for all the good he did as a journalist.)

Other questions demanded yes or no answers that were impossible to give. (Will you have all our troops out of Iraq by the end of your first term? Why, sure I would, Tim!! Regardless of what the f@$#%@% is going on in the Middle East or Iraq specifically at the time!!)

And a question about MoveOn.com? Come on, for God's sake. Can we expect him to put Republicans on the spot about the truly bizarre fringe groups (unlike MoveOn.com) that they snuggle up to on a regular basis? I'm guessing not.

Some of the questions, even the ones that weren't hypotheticals, had completely flawed or fake premises, ie the Fed chairman and GAO say we have to cut Social Security benefits in half or dramatically raise the payroll tax to save the program. I have no doubt that the Fed chairman feels that way, as many Republicans are allergic to the program and would love to see it slashed or lose popularity. But I could find no evidence that the GAO has EVER said anything that extreme. Here are their white papers on it, going back several years (if the url below gets dinged, go to www.gao.gov/docdblite and then look up Social Security):

http://www.gao.gov/docdblite/openrecs.php?fy=&recflag=2&query=1&subhead=Income+Security

Some Democrat could have had a real "Bill Clinton takedown of Chris Wallace" moment by calling BS on the moderator at some point during the evening. And I don't mean just politely taking exception to him. I mean really shooting him down.

Hillary came closest to doing so at the end of the night, after Russert's torture hypothetical -- and here is where your article missed a bit of the exchange. After she condemned torture, Russert intoned, in his typical smug, pompous, gotcha voice, that the person who first brought it up was "William. Jefferson. Clinton." And Hillary said, "Well, he's not standing up here right now." BAM. When Tim then bloviated, as if he'd just uncovered a great crime, that she and her husband obviously disagree on this, THAT's when she said, Well, I'll have to have a talk with him about that.

Democrats need to stop reflexively answering questions from clowns like this, and challenge the premise of the question first. And then directly take on the questioner if necessary. They are finally learning how to do this on Fox News, but they need to do it with "mainstream journalists" also.

Posted by: sullijan on September 27, 2007 at 12:52 PM | PERMALINK

Interesting. I thought Biden was really the only straight shooter of the bunch last night. Posted by: brianr

This is true of every election. I believe that the candidates with pretty much no chance of winning have an go-for-broke attitude that "allows" them a latitude for greater honesty and creativity. The front-runners are so afraid of suggesting something even slightly controversial precisely because of debates being moderated by asshole hacks like Russert that they are never specific or interesting.

Right now, I don't have a candidate unless Feingold or Bloomberg make a late appearance.

Oh, and BTW, fuck New Hampshire and Iowa, two states with a combined population less than my home state of Washington, yet they are given an disproportionate influence in the Senate and in electing the president. Death to the Senate and the Electoral college! One (wo)man one vote!

Posted by: JeffII on September 27, 2007 at 12:53 PM | PERMALINK

Biden is easy to figure out. He's a cartoon of a caricature of a preening blowhard. Its all about being on camera for Joe.

Posted by: Junius Brutus on September 27, 2007 at 12:55 PM | PERMALINK

The combination of Russert's questioning AND Meet The Press's choice of big name guests never manages to extract any insights or deeper information, only prepared spin.

Ever watch him, or ANYONE, interview Condi? OMG - whatta waste of breath. She really should have been the Press Secretary.

Posted by: wishIwuz2 on September 27, 2007 at 12:56 PM | PERMALINK

I didn't watch the debates last night, Kevin, but your impressions closely mirror those I have had of previous Democratic debates. I still think John Edwards is the most electable progressive candidate - screw Hillary and we don't need a wishy-washy, simpering preener like Obama. He gives liberals a bad name. Utterly gutless. Of course, Kucinich is closest to my own viewpoints, but the man simply doesn't have the charisma to be president.

Oh yes, Tim Russert has always reminded me of a dyspeptic potato - and he is a terrible "journalist", to boot!

Posted by: The Conservative Deflator on September 27, 2007 at 1:02 PM | PERMALINK

Hillary's vote giving Bush the means to attack Iraq will come back to haunt her bigtime. How's she going to explain away that war too? The most disturbing thing about the debate was that the big three are way behind the country on getting out of Iraq. Edwards is my favorite, but it was ridiculous of him to say we're going to have to leave thousands of troops to protect our embassy. They all need to get on the train on this one.

Posted by: Walter Crockett on September 27, 2007 at 1:05 PM | PERMALINK

Gregor - I have the opposite reaction. I'm amazed to believe that even Hillary will beat any of the Republicans. Their positioning is just not workable in 2008...unless Iraq and the economy improve.

And that ain't gonna happen.

Posted by: Buford P. Stinkleberry on September 27, 2007 at 1:08 PM | PERMALINK

Bill Kristol thinks Hillary is out of step with the Democratic party. He might be right. If he is her current effort to move herself right of center might be premature.

What I want to know is what moron advised her to vote for the Kyl/Lieberman amendment. Edwards didn't waste before delivering a very telling b body blow. People are bound to question her judgment.

Posted by: corpus juris on September 27, 2007 at 1:12 PM | PERMALINK

"Edwards didn't waste any time before delivering a very telling body blow."

Never post while taking a phone call.

Posted by: corpus juris on September 27, 2007 at 1:14 PM | PERMALINK

Junius: I'd love to see Biden get asked a bankruptcy question; we'll see just how "straight shooting" he is then.

Posted by: SocraticGadfly on September 27, 2007 at 1:16 PM | PERMALINK

Amen on the cranky uncle. Can't the other candidates band together and refuse to appear until this walking joke from Alaska moves on?

I'm not a fan of Russert, and agree that he is far too kind to the powers that be in DC, but given that none of the candidates were given more than a minute or two to answer, I actually think that punchy "gotcha" questions are make sense. Force the candidates to face their contradictions. Otherwise it all turns into mush very quickly.

And Obama may not have distinguished himself, but from what I saw, he did no worse than any of the others except possibly Edwards, who was playing the role of the aggressive liberal. That might work in front of the choir, but will it really help him in a broader context?

Posted by: Kit Stolz on September 27, 2007 at 1:18 PM | PERMALINK

There's always the Green alternative.

Not really. But pass me some of what you're smokin' there, Bub. I haven't had a good connection since college.

If you want a viable Green party, vote Dem now, push the Thuglicans to their natural constituency in the deep south, and allow a viable Progressive/Green party to emerge to the left of the current Democratic party. Duh.

Posted by: Volatile Compound on September 27, 2007 at 1:36 PM | PERMALINK

Federal employees choose between HMOs/PPOs/HSAs, we pay premiums for ourselves and our family members, we have deductibles, we have to pay extra for dental and vision, et cetera. I'm not complaining, mind you, I very much appreciate this great benefit. But it ain't free. Posted by: Everett

I stand (well, I'm sitting actually) corrected.

And, BTW, fuck the Granite State and Our Liberties We Prize and Our Rights We Will Maintain State.

Posted by: JeffII on September 27, 2007 at 1:42 PM | PERMALINK

"Among the others, Gravel needs to be put out of his misery. These debates really don't need comic relief in the form of someone playing the cranky uncle role."

The problem with Mike Gravel isn't just that he comes off as a cranky old uncle. The problem is that he keeps making sense while doing it.

Posted by: Hieronymus Braintree on September 27, 2007 at 1:46 PM | PERMALINK

The problem with Mike Gravel isn't just that he comes off as a cranky old uncle. The problem is that he keeps making sense while doing it.

David Byrne!!!!

Posted by: Joe Klein's conscience on September 27, 2007 at 1:53 PM | PERMALINK

"If you want a viable Green party, vote Dem now, push the Thuglicans to their natural constituency in the deep south, and allow a viable Progressive/Green party to emerge to the left of the current Democratic party. Duh."

Great strategy! The Democrats tell you they are giving up on the biggest issue to progressives (and the country writ large) and your response is to keep supporting them. Man, no wonder the Democrat party will only be know as the party of surrender and appeasement. Democrats are the part of defeat and you centrist Republicans can keep your party.

I was a pretty traditional Democrat--up until now. I'm done with the Defeat-o-cRATs. The progressive agenda is more important that the Democratic party and the only way to move American opinion and to give us a greater choice for President is to make the Democratic party suffer for abanding progressives. They will continue to abuse us unless we stand up for ourselves. You can continue to be a sucker but don't patronize me by saying I'm smoking something for not supporting Hillary. You're the sucker!

Posted by: SFHawkguy on September 27, 2007 at 1:58 PM | PERMALINK

Who would you rather have the next Supreme Court pick? One of the fascist Thuglican candidates, or Hillary?

Posted by: Volatile Compound on September 27, 2007 at 2:06 PM | PERMALINK

SFHawkguy,

You as a progressive understand, of course, that in our 2 party system, any vote other than DFL helps put the GOP back in power, regardless of your intentions (?). Ask any fence-riding lefty who made a last minute 2000 vote for Nader.

If you don't feel the Democrats have been punished sufficiently in the last 6 years, I doubt you ever will.

Posted by: wishIwuz2 on September 27, 2007 at 2:15 PM | PERMALINK

SCOTUS has lurched dramatically to the right the last 20 years--no thanks to the Democrats.

But to answer your question . . . I would rather have Hillary nominate the next SCOTUS justice. But . . . it is far more important to move our politics to the left over the long term and to stand up for progressive views. Face it. We have lost using your appeasement strategy and we are lost in 08 as well. Hillary and the Defeat-o-cRATs have ensured that we only get to debate two right of center views--one is fascist (Rudy et. al) and the other is more of a Rockefeller Republican view (Hillary). The Democratic party just greenlighted an attack on Iran and refuses to commit to leaving Iraq. Also, polically, Hillary and the mainstream Democrats have just hurt liberals/progressives far more than Rush Limbaugh has ever done because they reinforce the idea that those of us on the left, the liberal/progressive MoveOn crowd, are loons. By continuing to support this defeatist strategy you have appeased the right in the short term and you may get your Rockefeller Republican SCOTUS nominee but you lose the long-term war for the hearts and minds of the American people. I'm done cutting and running from the hard choices. Your appeasement strategy has been an abject failure.

Posted by: SFHawkguy on September 27, 2007 at 2:25 PM | PERMALINK

WishIwas2,

I'm sure that you understand that I have stood with the Democrats my entire life because I believed they represented me better than any other party? So you also understand that I'm suppossedly on your side? How have the Democrats been treating me lately? With utter scorn. I voted for Gore in 2000 and like you, I encouraged Nader voters to not "throw their vote away". We've tried your stategy. It's a loser strategy. Democrats are losers. They have so triangulated themselves and are so afraid of thier own principles that they have cut and run from the debate. I frankly do not blame the Republicans for accusing Democrats have be white-flag waving, wishy-washy, appeasement-loving, surrender monkeys. Because they have conclusively demonstrated that they are. No one in America likes a loser that can't stand up for himself and his putative friends. If you and the Democrats continue to treat me with scorn why should I stand by you? I believe in moving this country toward a better future--which is a liberal/progressive future. You and the Democrats are part of the problem and it's time to come up with a new way to reach the American people and show them that liberal/progressive ideas are good ideas.

It's time smash the Democratic party into a thousand pieces.

Posted by: SFHawkguy on September 27, 2007 at 2:33 PM | PERMALINK

Russert's Social Security question was the most annoying because he kept insisting on his frame for the question: "The system is broken - what are you going to do about it?" The only one who answered this even slightly effectively was Richardson, who pointed out the unrealistically low growth rates implicit in the GAO's projections. Richardson is absolutely right that we can grow our way out of the crisis with a 1.8% annual growth insead of the anemic 1.3% of the GAO's historically-flawed median projection. But he went last (or nearly last) on that question, and didn't quite get the clarity he needed. I wish Edwards or Clinton or Obama would have said, "No, Tim, we can grow our way out of it - and as President, I'm committed to keeping economic growth a levels above 1.8% in any case. If the rest of my economic policy is successful, we won't have a Social Security problem either."

Posted by: robsalk on September 27, 2007 at 2:33 PM | PERMALINK

What else would SFHawkguy like to sacrifice in his gesture of self-actualization, er facing the hard choices? Reproductive rights? Habeas corpus? Search and seizure laws? The unitary executive branch? Separation of church and state? First ammendment rights?

That's what's at stake. If those are ideals we think are worth fighting for, liberals like us have to make an awful and unappealing choice. SFHawkguy thinks it's taking the side of the mushy middle and Republicans. I think it's taking the side of the millions of our countrymen and women who have lost so much but will only lose more under another four years of a republican president -- and another generation and a half of their dominance of the Supreme Court.

Posted by: boatshoes on September 27, 2007 at 2:36 PM | PERMALINK

Warts and all, I wish Biden could catch more up-lift. The office of President, being what it is, matches his skill set.

Posted by: Keith G on September 27, 2007 at 2:37 PM | PERMALINK

Boatshoes said:

"What else would SFHawkguy like to sacrifice in his gesture of self-actualization, er facing the hard choices? Reproductive rights? Habeas corpus? "Search and seizure laws? The unitary executive branch? Separation of church and state? First ammendment rights? "

How many more of these issues are you and the Democrats going to give up on in an effort to appease right-wingers? You've given the right-wingers what they want and you mock me for not adequately fighting for these issues? That's rich. Only a modern Democrat can try to dress up abject failure as some sort of moral victory. You've already cut and run on these issues and worse--you make those of us that really want to fight for these issues look like fools--when so called liberals like Hillary and you mock liberals like me it does far more damage to the progressive cause than any right-wing thug can do.

Look, mocking my solution is fine--you can call me naive even though I think you are the one who is naive. But don't doubt that I share your stated goals--to save our liberty and our very national by stopping the right-wing thugs. I've just lost hope in the same loser strategy you are yet again proposing. And I sincerely doubt you are as committed to fighting for the issues you list above--so please spare me the lecture.

Posted by: SFHawkguy on September 27, 2007 at 2:52 PM | PERMALINK

SFHawk, I'm totally with you.

There's no way I'd be an "enabler" of any of the leading Democrats. And, that's exactly what's involved when you bitch, but continue to pull the "D" lever in the voting booth.

All those of you who do want to continue to be enablers, the line for stopping bitching at the same people you continue to elect starts at the right.

Posted by: SocraticGadfly on September 27, 2007 at 2:56 PM | PERMALINK

You lot can take your righteous principles to the reeducatuion camps, but I have no desire to go down that path. You say you refuse to be an "enabler" but you are not only enabling the Thuggies with your righteous indignation, you are playing into their hands. That is at least ten times worse than "enabling Democrats."

Posted by: Volatile Compound on September 27, 2007 at 3:01 PM | PERMALINK

You mean the Democratic establishment is playing into the Thuggies hands, right? The way I see it is the Democrats that are doing exactly what the Republicans want. I'm telling you not to give in and your'e giving in and blaming me for your weakness. That is clearly the reality and is a hundred times worse (I raise your 10X) than anything progressives have done.

Did you just see that the Democrats laid the groundwork for another war in Iran? That they refuse to committ to ending the Iraq war by 2013? That they just censured the largest anti-war group in the country which also happens to be their base? The Democrats have totally capitulated to the "Thuggies" and you have the gall of saying it is I who play into their hands?

With advice such as this the Democratic party will rightously be labeled the party of defeat for years to come. If a Republican says "boo" Democrats like Volatile Compound will cut and run and hand the keys to the Thuggies and blame me for making them so scared of the Thuggies. Brilliant strategy for convincing Americans to adopt liberal positions.

Posted by: SFHawkguy on September 27, 2007 at 3:29 PM | PERMALINK

I'll be voting for either Gravel or Kucinich in the primary and then holding my nose to vote for the Dem nominee next year. What most astounded me last night was Hillary's statement that perhaps combat troops would have to remain in Iraq after Jan 2009 to fight al Qaeda. We already know neither Sunni nor Shia will tolerate an al Qaeda presence (small in number in any case) in their country. Hillary is Bush-lite and apparently as uninformed. Her linking the intelligence that a North Korean freighter had been spotted entering a Syrian port to Syria working on nuclear weapons is the kind of evidence that got us into Iraq, e.g., questionable and propagandistic. And what was with the last question...what is your favorite Bible verse? Could we please try a little harder for separation of church and state?

Posted by: nepeta on September 27, 2007 at 3:35 PM | PERMALINK

I'm not scared of Thuggies - I'm realistic. And realistically, abandoning the Democratic Party right now is akin to abdicating the Republic to the fascists. If there was a Green or a progressive with a prayer, I would be all over it. But there isn't.

I want my ideals and principles to survive the next administration. I fear that the republic is doomed if another Republican president is elected next year, and realistically voting for the Democratic nominee is the only realistic action to make that even a possibility.

I applaud your idealism, I really do. And I am not going to convince you, nor you me. So I guess we just degenerate into name calling and cede the fucking republic to the thugs? Great plan, that.

Posted by: Volatile Compound on September 27, 2007 at 3:39 PM | PERMALINK

SFHawkguy,

I certainly agree with your sentiments. I'm just not sure that a majority of Americans are prepared to accept a progressive argument, no matter how well-stated. I think of Paul Wellstone and how maybe he could have pulled it off, but even given that scenario I'm basically pessimistic. But I agree that many Democrats are going way overboard in being mushy, middle-of-the road, sometimes anti-progressive cowards. But maybe it's not political strategy, but simply who they are.

Posted by: nepeta on September 27, 2007 at 3:46 PM | PERMALINK

Again, I'm with SF: I'll take your 10x and double down. Oh, and the Dems who want to continue in Iraq, etc., love you doing their arguments for them, and continuing the way to think you do.

Speak of "reeducation..."

Posted by: SocraticGadfly on September 27, 2007 at 3:53 PM | PERMALINK

*

Posted by: mhr on September 27, 2007 at 3:58 PM | PERMALINK

1. Russert sees his duty as promoting the interests of the D.C. commutariat. The preferred script is Hillary vs. Obama, with Hillary winning the nomination. He's just a tool.
2. Hillary doesn't care if Dems like what she says because she doesn't need grass-roots Dems to win the nomination. A huge plurality of delegates are elected officials and party regulars who are appointed, not elected. They love Bill Clinton. She probably needs less than 30% of the primary vote to take the convention. With her poll numbers now in the mid-40s and holding, she's already running her September 2008 campaign.
3. I'll tell you as a party veteran that supporting HRC is now the default setting for Dem regulars. They'll SAY they'd like to support someone with a better compass, but they secretly think she's got it in the bag. If there's not a consolidation of support behind a single ABC (Anybody But Clinton) candidate before the first votes are taken, I predict it's all over before it begins.

Posted by: W Action on September 27, 2007 at 4:10 PM | PERMALINK

Why would anyone think that Bill Kristol has the slightest idea what Democrats are thinking and how they'll vote? Did he read it somewhere? Did Karl Rove tell him?

Posted by: W Action on September 27, 2007 at 4:17 PM | PERMALINK

W Action,

Do you think rank and file Democrats are ok with giving Bush/Cheney anything they can use to hint they have authority to go to war with Iran? Even a broken clock is right twice a day.

Posted by: corpus juris on September 27, 2007 at 4:32 PM | PERMALINK

W Action,

I think you're right. Hillary's got it in the bag and she knows it. She is already positioning herself back to the right. My God--last night she sure sounded to me like she is not only not going to stop an attack on Iran but going to encourage an attack--and that was in the DEMOCRATIC PRIMARY.

I will continue to encourage Democrats to pick a better candidate. But Hillary will win and we will yet again be faced with a "centrist" Democrat vs. the right-wing Thug. The continued rightward lurch of this country will continue apace.

Posted by: SFHawkguy on September 27, 2007 at 4:32 PM | PERMALINK

SFHawkguy, based on last night's performance do you cast Hillary in the role of the "centrist" or the right-wing thug?

Posted by: corpus juris on September 27, 2007 at 4:43 PM | PERMALINK

My impression is that Hillary will win the nomination because she exudes a toughness that the two other leading candidates don't. Edwards and Obama both seem extremely bright and well-spoken, and they're probably not wimps to have gotten as far as they have, but they don't have that look that Hillary has that says, "you really don't want to fuck with me."

Posted by: Del Capslock on September 27, 2007 at 4:49 PM | PERMALINK

Hillary's been publicly sucking up to the Yankees for 7 years now, you'd think she'd have a better answer for the potential Cubs/Yankees series. I mean, yes, I know it's a stupid, stupid issue, but it still annoys me that she'd rather look like an idiot (alternating support?) than risk offending IL or NY voters because of a baseball preference. She can't even pander convincingly!

Posted by: Royko on September 27, 2007 at 5:01 PM | PERMALINK

I can't believe I haven't heard more about Hillary revealing last night there is suppossed justification for Israel attacking Syria that she can't tell us about. Should any Democrat blindly trust this type of assertion from Bush? I mean c'mon. This country should not attack another country (or give Israel permission to do so) unless we are willing to show our evidence to the world.

So yes corpus juris, Hillary does indeed sound much like a right-wing thug.

Posted by: SFHawkguy on September 27, 2007 at 5:14 PM | PERMALINK

Did anyone else like the answers to the Bible question? At first I groaned when I heard the question. But I realized that this type of a religous question is a good way for the Democrats to show their religous side in a positive way. The Democrats picked uplifting lessons from the Bible (the Golden Rule, helping the poor, etc.). I especially like Kucinich's answer tying in Jesus' message of love and peace to his governing philosophy. Edwards was good too. This was a good way for the Democrats to show that they have some overarching political philosophy (unfortunately, they don't--so this is the only positive from the debate for me).

Posted by: SFHawkguy on September 27, 2007 at 5:20 PM | PERMALINK

SFHawkguy

I get the impression listening to Hillary that she is running for Senate from New York. She has to hit the same pro-Israel themes over and over again as though anybody outside of New York and DC gives a shit what AIPAC thinks.

The Republicans have the same problem with the tiny minority of exiled Cubans in Miami who, since 1960, have been dictating our Cuba policy to the detriment of both the United States and Cuba.

Posted by: corpus juris on September 27, 2007 at 6:08 PM | PERMALINK

Russert's questions certainly betrayed his right wing bias - as usual. All the right wing hit themes - the implication that getting out of Iraq is impossible, the obsession with MoveOn, the fear and loathing of fair taxes on the wealthy, the justification of torture due to some far out, fantastical, improbable and ridiculous teevee scenario from '24'. Did anyone doubt fat Tim would bring up hedge funds? But some how fat Tim managed to avoid the things the country and especially Democrats are concerned about - the corruption in DC, the environment, the deficit, education, what exactly the health care plans would accomplish and why they're needed.

But then this is a guy who refers to Democratic legislators as the Democrat Senator or the Democrat Congressman and who thinks his gotcha questions are clever. (He once asked Ted Kennedy about something he said in 1962! 19 effing 62.) He gives new meaning to the term second rate and has really tarnished the "Meet the Press" image.

Posted by: Chrissy on September 27, 2007 at 6:31 PM | PERMALINK

I say keep Gavel in, he says some of the things I would say if I were there, like telling Hillary she was crazy for voting for the Leiberman thing. Same thing she did with Iraq. He may be crazy, but at least he has balls.

Posted by: Spike on September 27, 2007 at 6:48 PM | PERMALINK

I watched the whole thing. Full disclosure, I'm an Edwards supporter.

Hillary moved further right, and her responses on the war, and the Syrian intelligence, and her vote on the Iran thing were appalling. Only Edwards was deft enough to throw her statements in the high relief they deserved.

Edwards was relaxed, fluent with the facts and analysis. He was likable but serious sounding and appearing. He showed courage where most of the others seemed to act as though they were in the presence of a queen and they but courtiers.

Except for some general cravenness, a very good showing all around, except for Hillary, who did not advance her cause much. Her now-trademark laughter, although sometimes genuine and delightful, struck me last night as derisive and evasive both--after Gravel nailed her on her despicable vote. Watch for this laugh. It's a giveaway.

I worry about Richardson's health, watching him on television. He is more than overweight. He's puffy around the face and does not seem particularly ~there~ to me.

Posted by: paxr55 on September 27, 2007 at 7:28 PM | PERMALINK

Ugh, now that Hillary looks like she's wrapping up the nomination I guess it's time to get used to people threatening to leave the Democratic Party again, or destroy it, or whatever. That'll show them. That'll show them all.

I think the fact that the Democratic party is such a fat ineffectual lump that even the most marginal lefties can beat their chests about how they're going to smash it to bits demonstrates that it is not the problem. When you're weak enough that even Ralph Nader thinks he can take you down, you're the symptom, not the disease.

The Dem party is just a platform. Bust it up, you'll just have to create a new platform. Why will that one be better? Because you really want it to be? Because the mushy centrists will have learned their lesson and come around to wherever you stand on the political spectrum? Why do you think so? What happens if you're wrong?

Posted by: sweaty guy on September 27, 2007 at 9:07 PM | PERMALINK

I gotta say, a chill went down my spine as I watched the debate. I always thought Invasion of the Body Snatchers was just a movie, but by God, it seems that the pod people have taken over our Democratic candidates as one by one they start parroting the words that the military industrial complex loves to hear- war, more war, and still more war. We'll be tough on Iran, we'll keep thousands of troops in Iraq past 2013- that must have brought tears of joy to the eyes of stockholders of Lockheed Martin, General Dynamics, and Halliburton.

And what the hell is wrong with Hillary Clinton? Her slightly insane, robotic laugh, savagely mocked on The Daily Show, is right out of the Batman movie when the Joker has managed to poison beauty products.

Aaaarrggggg!

Posted by: Jim on September 27, 2007 at 10:17 PM | PERMALINK

Biden should stay in the debates so he can keep pointing out the ONLY workable solution to the IRAQ situation. That solution is some kind of loose federalizing of 3 regions and that is already taking place by the Iraqi's themselves now. It is a solution that just got 72 - 73 Senatorial Votes in our congress, though the resolution was not binding. That tells you something.

Posted by: Merg on September 27, 2007 at 11:43 PM | PERMALINK

Jim: "I gotta say, a chill went down my spine..."

Your comment is right on! And funny too!

Posted by: nepeta on September 28, 2007 at 2:43 AM | PERMALINK

Hillary won the debate, as she has every other debate. She was prepared, thorough, and presidential. Plus, she looked good. (Edwards and Obama looked wan.)

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